Toyah Cordingley was murdered one year ago. The biggest questions still remain.

In a car park at Wangetti Beach, north of Cairns, work is underway on a memorial monument for Toyah Cordingley, a local woman described by loved ones as “beautiful” and “caring”, a woman with a passion for animals, a love of sunflowers and the Harry Potter books.

On Saturday, friends, family and strangers will gather there to remember the 24-year-old, whose body was found in nearby sand dunes close to a year ago.

But while the unveiling of the monument will be about honouring Toyah’s life, the mystery of her murder still hangs heavily over the community.

As family friend and one of the men working on the memorial, Wayne “Prong” Trimble, told The Cairns Post, “My first reaction [to her death] was disbelief, then I went into shock, them I went into horror, anger. I’m still angry… We want to send a message out to the world that hopefully nothing like this ever happens again.”

Toyah Cordingley’s mysterious death.

October 21, 2018, started out like any ordinary Sunday for Toyah.

Around midday, the pharmacy worker went to Rusty’s Market in Cairns. She was captured on CCTV as she crossed a road afterwards, wearing a crocheted singlet top and carrying a colourful, striped bag.

Later that afternoon, Toyah drove 40km to Wangetti Beach, along with her boyfriend Marco Heidenreich’s much-loved dog. She left her Mitsubishi Lancer, with the number plate “TOY 146”, in the car park, and went for a walk on the sand. That was between 2pm and 2.30pm.

Sometime after that, on Wangetti Beach, Toyah was killed.

Toyah Cordingley
Toyah Cordingley with her dog, Indie. Image: Facebook.

When Toyah failed to return, Marco raised the alarm. Family searched into the night, armed with torches, and found Marco's dog tied up at the beach, alone.

Toyah was officially reported missing at 10:50pm.

Bolstered by police and SES volunteers, the search continued in the darkness and through to the following morning. It was then, around 7.45am, that Toyah's father, Troy Cordingley, discovered her body in the sand.


"Toyah is my only child. Finding her body has burnt an indelible image in my mind," Troy wrote in a Facebook post that December. "It is something a father should never have to suffer.

"I feel lost and empty inside but will always have the wonderful memories of those 24 years … she should have had so many more."

toyah and troy cordingley
Toyah and her father, Troy. Image: Facebook.

One year on.

As the anniversary of Toyah Cordingley's death looms, authorities have not confirmed the identity of the prime suspect or a possible motive.

In June, on what ought to have been Toyah's 25th birthday, Queensland Police said only that Operation Quebec Clarify – a dedicated team of detectives and support personnel – was still working on the case. At that time, they'd taken more than 400 statements and followed up over 2800 lines of inquiry.

But still no answers.

In the weeks after Toyah's death, her mother, Vanessa Gardiner issued a public appeal via Queensland Police.

“If there is anyone who is holding back or knows something about this, no matter how small the information may be, we plead with you to come forward to bring us closer to finding who and why anyone would do this to our Toyah,” she said.

“You can help our broken family by bringing hope and justice for Toyah’s senseless death.

“Life for us will never, ever be the same.

“A message from Toyah to everyone, especially all the young women in the world – NEVER GIVE UP!”

Anyone with information relating to Toyah's death is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a report online. You can remain anonymous.

00:00 / ???